Los Angeles Holocaust Museum Launches New Exhibit Honoring FC Bayern Munich

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The "Venerated – Persecuted – Forgotten: Victims of Nazism at FC Bayern Munich" exhibit will be available at the museum through September.

FC Bayern Munich is one of the most famous and successful soccer clubs in the world, but few people are aware of their history of Nazi resistance during World War II. The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is now honoring the Jewish members of that club through their new exhibit, "Venerated – Persecuted – Forgotten: Victims of Nazism at FC Bayern Munich."

American and German dignitaries, including California State Senator Henry Stern, Germany’s Consul General to Los Angeles Stefan Schneider, Bayern’s CEO and executive board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Stephen Smith, the director of the USC Shoah Foundation, gathered in the Museum’s Children’s Memorial on Tuesday afternoon, to speak to the importance of remembering the Holocaust and those who were victims of the Nazis.

Rummenigge told The Hollywood Reporter why it was important to the team to honor and remember their Jewish past. 

"We had a Jewish president and he was the first president who was successful when we won the German championship in 1932, but he was more than just successful, he was important for the story and history of Bayern Munich," he explained. "I believe unfortunately that for many years, he was forgotten ... I believe that we Bayern Munich can be an example and sports and soccer in general can take an important part in not forgetting and helping to remember."

Munich was a stronghold of the Nazi movement in the 1930s, but FC Bayern Munich was a team with a strong Jewish identity. Several of the players, the coach and the team president, Kurt Landauer, were all Jewish and they attempted to defy Hitler and the Nazis for as long as they could.

Eventually, Landauer was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp. He survived the war and was one of the few Jews to return to Munich, where he rebuilt the club and today he is remembered as one of the most important figures in the history of Germany’s most successful team.

Senator Stern worked with the California Jewish Caucus to bring the exhibit to the museum and he spoke to the importance of keeping Holocaust history alive.

"The millennial generation, 50 percent don’t even know what Auschwitz was. They’ve never even heard of Dachau," he told the audience. "It's an obligation for the Jewish Caucus and for all of us here who are Jews and non-Jews to not let these stories die. You are storytellers, you are winners and champions so to give your platform to this cause, I think that Mr. Landauer is smiling down today."

Smith told THR why it was especially important that a team like FC Bayern would use their platform to speak against anti-Semitism and to keep alive the history of the Holocaust.

"Anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise and what you have is this amazing powerhouse within German society where this club is prepared to say 'our heritage doesn’t allow us to stand for this.' So that’s really important for a German institution, which has such global reach, being effective in its own country but also bringing that message here."

Following the speeches, guests were led on a tour through the museum where they learned about the members of the team who lost everything, including their lives, as they stood in defiance of the Nazis. 

FC Bayern Munich is currently on an exhibition tour of the United States, where they will face off against several other globally famous teams such as Arsenal, Real Madrid and AC Milan.

The exhibit is open to the public now and will be available at the museum through September.